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2016 MCHAP


Pedro Varella

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

January 2015


gru.a (group of architects) Julio Parente


MVD Losberger Brazil (Construction)


João Paulo Quintella



The project proposal consists of a tubular structure staircase that leads the public to a platform rising 10 meters above the ground level of the Praça XV - precisely the same height of the defunct Perimetral highway. The structure is located on the stretch where once stood one of the pillars that supported the overpass. The project does not intend to carry a precise message, but rather to stimulate each one to develop a personal interpretation of the urban transformation process over time. It positions itself as an absence, referring to something that is no longer there, speaking of a time that has passed and other moments to come. From this height, you can experience Praça XV in a previously unexplored way, unveiling the Bay of Guanabara behind the ferry terminal, aligning the treetops with the horizon and revealing the coming and going of pedestrians. In a place where once was a heavy infrastructure now stands emptiness, the wind and the fragility of an ephemeral structure. The body can linger where it once went fast.


The site of Praça XV is formed by overlapping layers belonging to important moments in the history of Rio de Janeiro, from the former Imperial Palace, now used as a cultural center, to the intercity ferry terminal, which was the main landing point for African slaves between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. In 1970, the construction of the elevated highway called Perimetral added another important layer to this rich context: a set of four suspended lanes that snaked throughout the entire port coast of Rio de Janeiro. Built in order to meet the needs of the growing number of cars transiting the city. Despite its disastrous integration into the urban fabric, the Perimetral was consolidated as an important metropolitan transportation device. This infrastructure was in use for over half a century until April 2014, when its ambitious implosion plan was concluded. On the one hand, its demolition was heavily publicized and widely used as a political agenda, on the other, there was little or no discussion between the city`s administration and the population about the spaces and possibilities generated by the absence of the Perimetral. ELEVATION 10 emerges in this context, months after the demolition of the highway. By building a temporary structure, the project promotes a platform for reflection on the city`s evolution process, installed on a spot that where previously occupied by the highway overpass, thus instilling public debate on the ever changing urban landscape.


The construction method employed was determined by factors arising from the nature of the space in which the structure was implemented, budget and schedule limitations for its construction. The license granted by the City Hall was for a week only, including the assembly and disassembly processes. The scaffolding modules work as an open system, allowing parts to be used, after removal, in other constructions. The low budget construction process in tubular steel frame (scaffoldings) allowed assembly within 36 hours, leaving most of the time for free public visitation. Approximately 118 R$ (29U$D) was spent for each built sq. meter. For such an ephemeral project, no foundations were needed and structure stability was guaranteed by eight concrete blocks, with one ton each, supported on the floor and linked to the top level (level + 10m) by tensioned steel cables. The total weight of concrete blocks was 8 tons, while the rest of the structure amounted to only 3 tons. The impact of ELEVATION 10 can be measured in terms of the meaningful reflection it evoked, recorded in the memory of those who passed by, the echoes of its brief existence. The structure, as others so numerous ones in our cities, is no longer where it was. The project received a major national award and was published on various websites and magazines of art and architecture, which greatly contributed to the ongoing debate around such important urban issues.

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